The Best Rooster Breed for Your Flock

Why Bantam Roosters Come up Short on Practicality

best-rooster-breed

On the hunt for the best rooster breed for your flock? There’s plenty to choose from, but which breed will work best for you? Each breed has its own average “chickenality” to consider, and different roosters perform different jobs better than others. To find the best rooster breed for your flock, you need to answer a few questions first.

Can You Have One?

Before we get carried away here, can you own a rooster? Many cities have been coming around to the whole backyard chicken movement, passing zoning rules to allow their residents some leeway. Many zoning rules include how many birds you can keep, and usually specify if you can or can’t have a rooster. It’s important to know your local regulations.

Your Neighbor’s Sanity

Will your neighbors tolerate a rooster? Regardless of local rules, if you have neighbors close to you or your coop, will they take issue with a rooster next door? A disgruntled neighbor, regardless of local regulations, can make things harder than they need to be.

It’s one thing to field questions like “Why do roosters crow?” It’s another thing to deal with “Why does your rooster crow… outside my bedroom window!” Can you locate the coop farther away from your neighbors? Hearing a faint crow from afar may be charming to your neighbor. A walking, squawking, feathered alarm clock with rooster spurs, set to crow at sunrise every day may drive them insane. Depending on your neighbor, it may be a short drive.

best-rooster-breed

Pint-sized Bantam roosters are great fun and can make for a wonderful pet.

Why You Want One

“Just because” is a valid reason, albeit a vague one. It’s natural to have a rooster with your hens, and many of us become curators of cantankerous roosters by accident. But some people have a job in mind for their best rooster breed to perform.

Breeding

One good reason to have a rooster is that you want chicks! Hens don’t need a rooster in the flock to lay eggs, but they do need a rooster in the flock to lay fertile eggs. Roosters of all types will breed hens, but when picking your best rooster breed, there are a few things to consider.

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Fertility rates vary from breed to breed, and from bloodline (family) to bloodline. Large, extra docile or overly fluffy breeds typically have lower fertility rates. Close-feathered, aggressive breeds will yield a better fertility rate in your flock, meaning you’re more likely to collect fertile eggs than non-fertile eggs from your hens.

Are you happy to raise mutt birds? Do you want your flock to breed true to a breed standard? Are you looking to help a rare breed or variety survive? Your answer to these questions will also largely dictate what breed you pick.

Remember, size does matter. If you introduce a behemoth of a rooster into a flock of hens that are of small stature, they probably won’t breed, or worse, they’ll injure your hens. Similar in reverse; a pint-sized bantam rooster won’t be useful in a flock of lanky Australorp hens.

best-rooster-breed

Commercial Easter Egger roosters have done a great job keeping my girls out of trouble for years.

Protection

If your best rooster breed doesn’t need to meet a breed standard and you just want them to protect your flock, then you have plenty of options. There are three rooster behaviors to consider when picking protective roosters; stature, attentiveness, and attitude.

Stature

Bantam roosters can have some serious Napoleonic complexes. You can also find some wicked aggressive bantam roosters, but without some degree of heft or height, they’re not going to be effective at defending the flock. Large roosters are imposing, but the larger they go, the more tame and inattentive they tend to be.

Attentiveness

Not all roosters are attentive. An excellent protective rooster seldom has his head down, is always keeping tabs on the girls and watches the sky. Chickens are prey animals, so they find safety in numbers. Hens that wander off alone are more likely to get picked off by a predator, so an effective rooster will keep his hens in a group, and chase wanderers back to the safety of the flock.

Attitude

Your best rooster breed for protection will be aggressive and assertive but have a certain level of amenability. You want your rooster to defend the flock from a strange dog, cat, fox or aerial predator, not from you or your children. A good flock protection rooster doesn’t need to be friendly, but for obvious reasons, he does need to be manageable. Even when you settle on the best rooster breed for protecting your flock, remember that, just like people, each will have its own quirks and chickenality. You may find a bad apple, so try another rooster before giving up on the breed.

Meat

There seem to be two categories of backyard chicken keepers; pet curators and livestock keepers. If your birds live their happy little lives out until natural causes take them to the other side, then this won’t apply to you, which is perfectly fine.

If you do prescribe to the theory that chickens are livestock, and you want meat and eggs from your home flock, then you’ll want to find the best rooster breed for producing meat birds. In this situation, you’ll want a bird with a large frame to carry the musculature you expect their progeny to grow. I suggest using a dual purpose breed for this since you want the hens you hatch to lay eggs and the roosters to have the frame to carry the muscle.

Your best rooster breed for hatching meat-worthy chickens from your flock will not be a commercial meat bird. Broilers, or “Cornish X Rocks” as they may be labeled, will not breed your hens well, nor will they live long without a restricted diet.

best-rooster-breed

Your rooster should get along with you and your family. These two co-workers get along while respecting each other’s personal space.

Family

It may be hard to think of a rooster as a “family pet,” but it can be. It can also be a living lawn ornament or a great way to make door-to-door salespeople think twice. If a pet bird is what you’re after, be sure to handle them frequently from an early age.

Feathered behemoths are typically very docile, even though they may appear quite imposing. Usually the bigger the bird, the more laid back their chichenality is. I love having a big, fluffy and friendly rooster in my flock, and it sparks some interesting conversations when people see him strolling through my yard. Coincidently, the neighbor’s cat is not a fan.

Bantam roosters can make great pets, and if handled a lot, can be amazingly docile. Don’t expect them to deter any varmint larger than a field mouse, but a well-handled bantam rooster can be a rewarding and endearing pet. Also, they don’t take up much room, and they eat less grain than their standard-sized cousins.

Breed Size Protection Meat Pet Comments
Rocks Standard Good Good Good Great all around bird
Rhode Island Red Standard Good OK OK Can be over aggressive
Orpington Standard OK OK Good Some are push-overs
Langshan Standard OK OK Good Big, slow, but beautiful
Australorps Standard OK OK Good Imposing, but low energy
Broilers Standard Poor Good Poor Won’t leave your feeder
Sebrights Bantam Poor Poor Good Great bird, don’t live long
Old English Bantam Poor Poor Good Commonly used in 4-H
Seramas Bantam Poor Poor Good Fun, smallest recognized breed
Belgians Bantam Poor Poor Good Smart, come in many varieties

Best Rooster Breed

If you’re looking for a rooster to protect your girls, I suggest a mid-sized breed. Birds such as the Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, and even the widely available commercial Easter Eggers make great protectors.

If you’re looking for a rooster that will give you sturdy progeny that could lay eggs or suffice as meat birds, look for something along the lines of a Barred Rock. Orpingtons and Wyandottes will also serve you well.

When it comes to a family pet; Sebrights, Old English, and Belgian bantams can be great fun and easy keepers. If you want something on the larger side, I’d suggest getting a standard Cochin, Brahma or Langshan, since the larger they are, the more easy-going they tend to be. In either case, it’s wise to handle them a lot, especially when they’re young.

What’s your pick for the best rooster breed? What have your experiences been? Let us know in the comments below!

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Comments
  • Gamefowl cocks make fantastic flock protectors if you only want one. Beware that if you have more they will fight to the death. Despite this tendency, they are almost universally docile towards humans due to very strict selective breeding to not be ‘man-fighters’.

    I have had probably about 50 cocks at one time or another, and I have six right now. Oddly enough, the best one I ever owned was a Buff Silkie from hatchery stock. Not at all what you’d expect but he was great with the hens, didn’t mate much, kept a sharp eye out for hawks and dogs, and took care of young chicks. He also broke up cockerel fights and trained them up to be good flock roosters. Plus, he was very sweet to people. I can only hope I get another rooster as nice as him someday in a breed more suited for my flock goals.

    Reply
    • Oops, I forgot to add—he was the only Silkie cock that turned out that nicely. I’ve had several others and they were rubbish. So, don’t take that as an endorsement of the breed in general. I’ve had good ‘general’ experiences with Chanteclers, especially for northern climes. They require little training to be respectful and useful, and plus, those Partridge boys are magnificent.

      Reply
  • Barrie O.

    I currently have a mutt for my rooster. He is the product of a Wyandotte rooster and, I suspect, an Orpington hen. He is not overly aggressive towards us, but takes good care of the girls. He is also very good looking! His half sister is currently sitting on 24 eggs so we’ll see what comes of it.

    Reply
  • What is up with “rooster breed”? There is no such thing as a “rooster breed,” and yet this term was used repeatedly in this article. Chicken breed, duck breed, cattle breed…those are proper. You would never hear of the males of each referred to as a drake breed, bull breed, and so on. A gender in and of itself is not a breed. Please use proper terms so newbies don’t start using yet another invented & improper term.

    “What breed has your perfect rooster” is more likely the terminology that you should use in this article.

    Reply
  • We have had two barred rock rooosters. Both extremely beautiful birds. The first was given two us with 5 hens. He was great with then hens but as mean as the day is long. I knew he was going to be a handful when we got him. He was never really around people much. The wonderful lady that gave him to us would throw sunflower seeds over the fence open the door dump food and water and git while the gitten was good. He was big with talons as thick and long as your finger and it had gotten very difficult to work the yard with him around and when he drew blood from my wife I realized he really needed go. We decided that we could get another roo sometime in the future. This was important to us because we wished to have fertile eggs but agreed that would have to come later. Well later came sooner as it sometimes does. A friend of ours had aquired 8 ,about a week old, baby chicks that she was unable to keep. 6 ASI Browns and 2 Barred Rocks. So we took on the assignment of clearing space and raising some chicks.This was mid September so we spent the winter sharing our little house with our two dogs and eight chickens that were growing fast. And as they grew wouldn’t you know it that one of those Barred Rocks was a rooster.did I mention that the were all pullets.(another lesson learned).He is so much more friendly and if you can catch him you can hold him without having to head to the medical supply kit there after. Point being…… same breed yet two totally different animals. My advice to people wanting chickens if I may is this. Get them as chicks and hold them a lot.There will come a time when catching them, whether to check for mites, toss them back in the yard or just simply hold them out of love, you will need to catch them. The more you hold them the more they will trust you and the easier they will be able ro keep.

    Reply
  • Lets not put down bantam roos! I rsise silkies and the roos do very well guarding the flock! In the 20 plus years i have had silkies that were sweet to temperamental – and all were greak flock protectors against hawks and cats!

    Reply
  • I have raised silkies for 20 plus years and all my roos have been great protectors against cats and hawks!
    The ability to handle any roo if any breed is based on how much you handle them with the occasional roo that is just plain nasty. My current silky roo is a paint and loves me and is gentle with his girls. He is constantly alert and always talking to his gals! When it comes to broodies and their chicks he is kind to all!

    Reply
  • I had a Black Australorp roo but as soon as he turned 1 yr old he became overly aggressive. He saw me as a threat to the flock & drew blood on me more than once – needless to say he had to go. I now have a Barnvelder roo, he is 9 mos old & so far seems more manageable than the Australorp. We’ll see if his temperament changes once he turns a year old.

    Reply
  • I’ve been raising chickens for about 10 years. I’m no expert, but I read about and studied breeds a lot before I ever committed. Had a few roosters (Barred Rock) that were too protective (hackled up on the kid’s). I now have 2 small flocks, a mixture and Dominique’s, and now have 2 perfect roo’s (in my opinion), as they have never hackled up on anyone. My mixed flock has a beautiful white Americauna (Gabriel), a great and gentle protector. Don the Dominicker is the same. Yes, they have names. That’s just my experience. Good read! Thanks!

    Reply
  • We have a Cochin Maran Rooster…he is very protective of his hens and is one awesome guy period. He is friendly to us and our grandkids. He alerts us to strangers of any kind to our yard…makes a good watch Rooster. He will eat right from our hands as well. Comes when called, and goes into the Coop come bedtime. Just an all around awesome Rooster.

    Reply
  • Katlin P.

    Best roosters I’ve had are Black Copper Marans, Cream Legbars and Welsummers. Never had any aggressive towards people, but will protect their hens. These guys are perfect gentlemen who live in a mixed flock with zero problems. I highly recommend them.

    Reply
  • Bielefelders! These gentle giants are very attentive, will work together to protect if they are raised together (one will be dominant, but I’ve not seen any major scuffs). They are beautiful, attentive, exceptionally calm, do not crow much at all (like maybe three times each morning), stately to beat all bands and very good producers. If bred to a Biel hen, or any hen that is an auto sexed breed, you will be able to tell boys from girls right at hatch. I just cannot say enough good about them – I’ve been working with Biels for about 5 years now and they are by far my favorites!!!!

    Reply
  • We have free rangers during the day and 3 coops that they are closed up at night. Coop 1 is a Sebright with his 2 girls & a silkie hen, he keeps ok watch. Coop 2 is a mutt, he has Banty, Leghorns and Orpingtons he is great getting them in at night but during the day he sharing them with a Jersey Gaint male that sleeps in coop # 3. Coop 3 has a Silkie/Lavender Mix that is at least 5 yrs old, he keeps a tight rein on his girls they come, go when & where he says, he share his flock with a Bantam that does all the chasing the girls. It is fun to sit and watch how each male works the flocks, rarely are they all together and they each go in their coops at night.

    Reply
  • Cochins are wonderful roosters.They are big lovable balls of feathers,very alert, protective and beautiful to look at.

    Reply

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